Do we spend too much time in bright artificial light?

Our environment can harm our health. However, it also offers opportunities to improve our health and well-being. For example, we know that exposure to daylight can impact our metabolism. As part of our daily lives, we spend increasing amounts of time exposed to artificial light and light from televisions, computer screens and phones while it is dark outside. Now, the question is: does indoor light more like the natural light/dark cycle improve glucose metabolism over the current constant indoor light?

Less time in bright light in the evening can benefit our health

Researchers from the Netherlands looked at the metabolic effects of exposing overweight, insulin resistant volunteers to bright light during the daytime (8 AM to 6 PM) and dim light during the evening (6 PM to 11 PM). They called this Bright day-Dim evening. They compared this to the opposite (Dim day-Bright evening) where volunteers were exposed to dim light during the daytime and bright light during the evening.

They found that spending the day in bright light led to lower plasma glucose levels around the last meal of the day. Glucose levels after that meal were higher when the dinner was eaten under dim light conditions. Using Bright day-Dim evening light also improved the participants’ ability to burn calories and changes in triglycerides (fats) with breakfast.

These findings suggest that exposure to light indoors can impact our metabolism. More research is needed but this opens up new ways to explore the relationship between our surrounding environment and our health.


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